Tag Archives: James Madison Preparatory School

Mr. Madison’s Mind

Historians are often baffled by James Madison… In 1787, there was no stronger voice for nationalism and strengthening the federal government; yet, by 1790 he was battling one-time ally, Alexander Hamilton over the very powers they helped create.  Madison had become an advocate of limited government in less than a Presidential term.  What happened?

With friends like these...

With friends like these…

Madison was the “Father of the Constitution”… and creator of the Bill of Rights-  the commonly held description of our most overlooked Founder.  We view this change in his political outlook as inconsistency, or even a problem.  This opinion hangs on the assumption that Madison was responsible for the final draft of the Constitution.  He authored the Virginia Plan, the radical framework that altered the course of the 1787 Convention.  Of the document produced in September, Madison said,  “It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.”  Most historians assumed Madison was being modest- in fact, he was expressing his displeasure with the process.  Madison wanted a Federal government that could control the wildly inconsistent passions of state governments, but he did not advocate a massive consolidation of power.

Author of the Virginia Plan

Author of the Virginia Plan

Federalist #10 is Madison’s warning aboutthe dangerous passions that consumed state governments.  From 1784 to 1787 he toiled in the Virginia legislature, witnessing the worst governance(or lack thereof) he could imagine.  The Federal government he envisioned would temper these passions(and blunders)  and provide the regulation to help the Union move forward. Madison opposed Hamilton’s financial programs because he feared they brought the same economic passions driving policy in the states  into Congress. The very threat Madison looked to alleviate caused his split Hamilton.  Madison remained consistent to the end. 

 

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Picking the Wrong Fight?

Pop history proclaims that eager “War Hawks” … in the United States forced the War of 1812 upon the American people.  Jeffersonians long antagonistic to the British empire wanted to strengthen our bonds with the French through a war.  Claims are also made stating that expansionists wanted to use the war as a vehicle to finally take possession of Canada.  Could all this be possible?  Did American statesman foolishly risk our republic for such dubious motives?……the historical record can answer those questions….

Here are my suggestions…

Does James Madison sound like a saber-rattling tyrant … in his war message delivered June 1, 1812 ?

We behold, in fine, on the side of Great Britain, a state of war against the United States, and on the side of the United States a state of peace toward Great Britain…Whether the United States shall continue passive under these progressive usurpations and these accumulating wrongs, or, opposing force to force in defense of their national rights,  is a solemn question which the Constitution wisely confides to the legislative department of the Government.  In recommending it to their early deliberations I am happy in the assurance that the decision will be worthy the enlightened and patriotic councils of a virtuous, a free, and a powerful nation.

Seems rational

It’s about honor, you fools

War Hawk and Speaker of the House Henry Clay… stated the case for war clearly in 1811

What are we to gain by war, has been emphatically asked? In reply, he would ask, what are we not to lose by peace?—commerce, character, a nation’s best treasure, honor!  Let those who contend for this humiliating doctrine, read its refutation in the history of the very man against whose insatiable thirst of dominion we are warned.  Let us come home to our own history. It was not by submission that our fathers achieved our independence.

Looking to our history

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Beyond Marble Faces…The Founders in Historical Perspective

It’s open season on our Founders… writers today attack them more vigorously than ever before.  21st century sensibilities substitute for constructive analysis of these men in their time.  The judgements are harsh because of  perceived failures in our history.  Racism, sexism, and elitism exist because our Founders were all of the above.

Do you really know us?

Do you really know us?

We are so far removed from our Founders… that we cannot see them for the men they were.  We blame our imperfections on them and disregard their efforts in the formation of our republic.  They have been relegated to lifeless marble and ridiculous caricatures. Sadly, the Founders were much more than that- their essence, utterly eludes today’s ambitious biographers.  Public virtue and social character mattered…

 

James Madison Preparatory School presents the annual History Dinner–  Thursday, April 10, 2014.  6pm JMPS auditorium

 

 

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Mr. Madison’s Mind

Historians are often baffled by James Madison… In 1787, there was no stronger voice for nationalism and strengthening the federal government; yet, by 1790 he was battling one-time ally, Alexander Hamilton over the very powers they helped create.  Madison had become an advocate of limited government in less than a Presidential term.  What happened?

With friends like these...

With friends like these…

Madison was the “Father of the Constitution”… and creator of the Bill of Rights-  the commonly held description of our most overlooked Founder.  We view this change in his political outlook as inconsistency, or even a problem.  This opinion hangs on the assumption that Madison was responsible for the final draft of the Constitution.  He authored the Virginia Plan, the radical framework that altered the course of the 1787 Convention.  Of the document produced in September, Madison said,  “It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.”  Most historians assumed Madison was being modest- in fact, he was expressing his displeasure with the process.  Madison wanted a Federal government that could control the wildly inconsistent passions of state governments, but he did not advocate a massive consolidation of power.

Author of the Virginia Plan

Author of the Virginia Plan

Federalist #10 is Madison’s warning aboutthe dangerous passions that consumed state governments.  From 1784 to 1787 he toiled in the Virginia legislature, witnessing the worst governance(or lack thereof) he could imagine.  The Federal government he envisioned would temper these passions(and blunders)  and provide the regulation to help the Union move forward. Madison opposed Hamilton’s financial programs because he feared they brought the same economic passions driving policy in the states  into Congress. The very threat Madison looked to alleviate caused his split Hamilton.  Madison remained consistent to the end. 

 

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Ramblings of an Antiquated Mind

Nothing beats an evening of history….

  • Jefferson scholarship is in a dangerous place right now
  • Dangerous precedents are being set today by Jefferson “scholars”
  • Simple lessons found in research are being forgotten; notably, if something cannot be proven, don’t report it as fact
  • Psychobiography has been discredited, please stop using it
  • There is a need for racial understanding and reconciliation- but not at the expense of history…
  • We know very little about  Jefferson’s private life-  he wanted it that way
  • No one is saying there is no need for new Jefferson scholarship, but it has to be responsible
  • Awards are being won, money is being made, but the real Jefferson is being lost
  • People looking for a good book about Jefferson, should always be shown something by Malone, Petersen, or Randall first
  • Ken Burns didn’t help matters much…
  • Madison Prep PPO invites you to an of History to discuss Jefferson scholarship today…. April 9 at 6pm     Elegant Dinner provided -Live Music-  some guy will talk about Jefferson. 
Can you read the words falling off my quill?

Can you read the words falling off my quill?

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Around the Corner

The third annual Presidents’ Day Banquet at the James Madison Preparatory School … is just around the corner.  To show that not all one term Presidents are failures, this year’s topic will be James Knox Polk.  “Expanding the Great Experiment of Liberty- Manifest Destiny and James K. Polk Reconsidered”  will compare and contrast traditional Polk scholarship with current revisionist histories.  Enjoy a fine dinner provided by the Madison Prep PPO and listen to the ramblings of a familiar antiquated mind providing fresh insight into a contentious issue in American history.  All proceeds will benefit the students of JMPS

Just a teaser…

Old Hickory haunting

James K. Polk never believed Britain would surrender… all of the Oregon Territory.  The Democratic Party made the acquisition of Oregon part of its platform in 1844.  The drive to acquire Oregon began with the first westward wagon trains during Jackson’s presidency.  The fiery rhetoric of “54*40′ or Fight!”  was intended to show American resolve, but Polk had no illusions of fighting a third war with England in less than a century.

54 40' or Fight!

The Joint Occupation of Oregon could not be sustained… because the United States was winning the settlement race.  The long worn route of the Oregon Trail was carrying more than 500 settlers per year.  The British could not negotiate from any tenable position and Polk understood the math of the situation.  Secretary of State James Buchanan  hammered out the details of a treaty that established the northern boundary at the 49th parallel (modern boundary.)  The firebrands in the Congress felt betrayed and that Polk had settled for the boundary line, but the treaty was as diplomatic victory for the United States.

The Queen meets Mr. Polk

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